La Bohème

Performed for the first time on 1 February 1896 at Turin’s Teatro Regio
Opera in four acts
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa

Locandina de La Bohème a tinte rosse e gialle. Lo stile è quello tipico liberty francese.

Plot outline:

The story is inspired by the novel “Scènes de la vie de bohème” by Henri Murger, reflecting a lifestyle that was very common a few years earlier in Milan, known as Scapigliatura. This opera’s greatness is due to the speed with which images are created and disappear during the four acts, where love and death swap places with narrative simplicity and spontaneity.

Listen to “Sì. Mi chiamano Mimì” from Act I on Spotify

Bozzetto della prima rappresentazione de La Bohème. È sera, i tetti di Parigi sono completamente innevati, le finestre delle case sono illuminate.
Attribution: Archivio Storico Ricordi


Paris, 1830. A group of young bohemians live a happy, carefree life.

The story begins under the snowy rooftops of the city, in the garret shared by Marcello and Rodolfo. Here, they meet Mimì, their young neighbour who knocks on the door to ask for a candle. This meeting between the young seamstress and Rodolfo marks the beginning of a new emotion which intensifies over the course of the opera.


Rodolfo and Mimì are with the group of bohemians at Cafe Momus where they meet Musetta, a former sweetheart of Marcello’s, who is with the wealthy Alcindoro. Musetta does everything she can to get Marcello’s attention, pretending to have a sore foot caused by her shoes. Marcello gives in to her advances and reconciles with Musetta. The group are unable to pay their bill, so they run off, leaving the entire bill for Alcindoro, who has gone out to buy a new pair of shoes for Musetta.


Paris is entirely covered in snow. Mimì, upset about her relationship with Rodolfo, confides in Marcello, who is also having romantic difficulties with Musetta.

At this time, Mimì is seriously ill, and Rodolfo is afraid that living in the garret could be harming his beloved’s health. They decide to stay together until the spring, unlike Marcello and Musetta who separate after a fierce quarrel.


Mimì’s condition worsens, and her friends start selling their possessions to get the medicine she needs. Despite their efforts, Mimì dies peacefully in Rodolfo’s arms in the garret where they first met.